Satisficing is a concept borrowed from decision-making theory in management and business studies. Satisficing is when you prefer the barely acceptable, the minimally satisfactory. You know, the bare bones when you accept the little that life has to offer you, when you don't aspire for more, when you are not ambitious, when you don't aim high. This is satisfying, not satisfying, satisfying.
Not the optimal outcome, not the maximal outcome, actually the minimal satisfactory outcome.
How can I explain it to you? If you are a satisficer, you're going to date me. If you are an optimizer, you're going to date Richard Grannon. And if you're a maximizer, you're going to date only tall guys with orange hair.
Did you get this? Right, there's a difference between satisficing, maximizing and optimizing, and it is intimately linked to narcissistic and psychopathic behavior.
As you shall see if you survived this video.
The principle of satisficing was discovered by Nobel Prize winning economist and management theorist Herbert K. Simon. Herbert Simon designed systems and methods to help guide decision-making. He invented cognitive heuristics, cognitive rules of thumb that managers can use. And he came up with the idea of bounded rationality.
You see, before Herbert Simon, there was the perception in various schools of economics that people are rational economic agents. They didn't have any education in psychology, but Simon was also a psychologist. A little like me, psychologist and economist. So he brought his insights from psychology into economics and he helped launch the new school of economics known as behavioral economics.
And of course, Herbert Simon was a Jew because all intelligent people are Jews. I mean, just look at me.
But seriously, I mean, one third of Nobel Prize winners are Jews. Can you believe this? Jews are like 13, 14 million people in a population of 8 billion and yet they garnered one third of all Nobel Prizes. Must say something about the Jews.
And Simon was no exception. He also won the Nobel Prize in 1978.
And so Simon, to get into the mind of Simon and to understand his thinking, I'm going to pick up my first iPhone encased in a battered and stained plastic case. No, don't ask. I know you want to ask, but please don't ask why it's battered and even worse, why it is stained.
But it's still an iPhone and it gives me access to the internet.
And here are a few things that Professor Simon said, a few of his quotes.
He said, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
He says, I don't care how big and fast computers are. They are not as big and fast as the world.
He said, one of the first rules of science is if somebody delivers a secret weapon to you, you should better immediately use it.
And he said, the world is vast, beautiful and fascinating, even or inspiring, but it is impersonal. The world demands nothing of me and allows me to demand nothing of the world.
And so bounded rationality is the idea that problems are essentially not fully optimally maximally solvable. You can't be a perfectionist. You can't aspire to the maximum.
You can't, for example, take into account all the available data because there's too many pieces of information. Some problems are not tractable. In other words, they have no solutions. They're not solvable.
And of course, your lifespan is limited, even if you're a Jew. And because your lifespan is limited, you don't have enough time in principle to solve certain problems because they require more than one lifetime.
It brings to mind the cathedrals in Europe, which took hundreds of years to construct. So this is bounded rationality.
Now, before we go into how satisficing applies to narcissists and psychopaths, and at the end of the video, there's a nasty surprise for all of you. Why it's nasty? Because it's me. I mean, it's a surprise. It's interesting. I think you will enjoy it, but it's still nasty.
So before we go into the psychology of satisfying, I've been receiving an avalanche of seriously bizarre questions like, are you really a doctor? Do you have a PhD or an MD? Is your doctorate from a diploma meal? And so on and so forth.
Well, I have a real doctorate from a real university and it's easy to substantiate because all you have to do is head over to the website of the Library of Congress and type Vaknin Time. Vaknin is my name. Time is my game. Vaknin Time. And you will see my doctoral dissertation, Time Asymmetry Revisited. And then I received an avalanche literally of questions. Are you really a professor? I mean, is this for real? Yes, I am a professor. I'm a professor of psychology. I've been a professor of psychology for well over four or five years.
And four, I think, in Southern Federal University in West Ovon Don. I'm also a professor of finance and a professor of psychology in the outreach program of CIPS, C-I-P-S. All you have to do is type CIPS Vaknin and you will see that I'm a member of the faculty. And I have now been approached to be the rector of Metropolitan University, the British University, Metropolitan University in the Balkans. So I'm deeply enmeshed in academia. I'm in the organizing committees of well over 100 international conferences. I very frequently give the main keynote speech in many of these conferences. I'm editor-in-chief of several academic journals, three, if my memory doesn't fail me. And I'm a member of the editorial board of another 70 or 80. And I hope all this satisfies you guys when it comes to my credentials.
So my name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, many other books and e-books, which you can find on Amazon, about personality disorders and other topics. And I'm also a professor of psychology, as I've mentioned just a few seconds ago. Having dispensed with this nonsense, let's go straight to the topic of this video. And the topic of this video is satisficing.
Remember that satisficing is when you settle for the minimum, when you don't aim high.
Psychologically, satisficers have a low self-esteem. And this leads satisficers to believe that they can do no better.
It's exactly the opposite of narcissistic grandiosity. The narcissist's grandiosity is a cognitive deficit. It's an extreme variant of the Dunning-Kruger effect or bias.
The narcissist believes that he's the most intelligent man on earth, that he has a 190 IQ. That he is amazing, outstanding, unprecedented. His grandiosity fails the reality testing. He has an impaired reality testing. That's why I keep saying that grandiosity should be reconceived. It's not a defense mechanism. It's actually a cognitive deficit. And it's a post-traumatic cognitive deficit.
And in this sense, grandiosity is a compensatory cognitive deficit. We very often compensate for life's adversity and for various traumas and pain. We compensate by retreating, by withdrawing into fantasy, because reality is too much for us.
And so the narcissist's grandiosity is this type of escape. The narcissist flees the scene into his own mind, where he is godlike.
Satisficers are exactly the opposite. They have low self-esteem and self-confidence. And they say to themselves, well, that's probably the best I can get. I'd better settle for it.
Because if I don't settle for this, I am unlikely to get any better offer or any better deal. That's the best deal I'm going to get.
Now, here's an example of a satisficer. She dates me, and there's many, of course. She has a very low self-esteem, but very high Java level. Satisficers have a perceived lack of options. As they see it, they have no choice. They have no alternatives. They have no hope. They have no path forward. The journey of, I mean, they're looking forward to the past. They believe, they regard themselves as caught, trapped in the amber of their life. They are like these primordial ancient ants caught in amber.
And they say, well, I'm frozen. I'm frozen. I'm likely to move anymore. So better make the best of my environment, however constricted and limited it is.
They suffer from something called under choice, as opposed to over choice. They have something called choice under load, as opposed to choice overload.
Now, over choice and choice overload were coinages. They were coined, but they're neologisms. They're new words, new phrases at the time, coined by Alvin Toffler.
Alvin Toffler wrote a stunning book, which is still amazingly and prophetically relevant, Future Shock. And in this book he said that one of the main problems of the future would be too many choices, too many options, and he called it over choice or choice overload.
Satisficers have exactly the opposite. They perceive their predicament, they perceive their condition as an under choice, choice under load, no choice.
And so consequently, whatever happens to them, they don't feel that they own their lives. They have no ownership of their lives, or to use Peterson's phrase, they don't feel responsible for their lives.
And so because of that, they have something called external locus of control. When you feel that you're in control of your life, when you feel that you are in the driver's seat, when you feel that when you have the feeling that you are the owner of your life, then you have something called internal locus of control.
Whatever happens to you, you say, well, for better or for worse, that's been my choice. I made it happen. It was my decision. It came from me. That's an internal locus of control.
But satisficers have an external locus of control. They believe that whatever happens to them, especially bad things happen to them, because their lives are controlled from the outside.
The satisficer would say, my life is determined from the outside. My life is decided by other people.
And very often, this leads to paranoia, because if your life is really controlled from the outside, it's very frightening. It's threatening.
So there's a sense of paranoia.
And these people satisficers are likely to say, well, people are envious of me. People are malicious. People conspire against me. They collude against me. They're out to get me. They're out to harm me.
So an external locus of control leads to limited agency, a limited sense of personal autonomy. You feel that you are the plaything, the toy of other people, their predilections, their proclivities, their preferences, their wishes determine your life. It's a horrible feeling.
And of course, every human being on Earth goes through an identical phase as a baby, as a baby, as a toddler, as an infant. That's exactly how you felt. You had felt that your life is determined by these two giants, mother and father, if you were lucky to have two parents.
I mean, these giants decided your fate. They decided when you go to sleep, how long you watch television, what you watch television, how can you play with your smartphone or not? I mean, your life was not really controlled by you to any extent. You could bargain, you could handle, you could negotiate, you can throw a temper tantrum. But it was very rare that you could really sway a firm decision of an adult in your life.
So satisficers regress to the period when they had no control over their lives.
In other words, they infantilize.
And you're beginning now to see the first confluence, the first meeting point between narcissists and satisficers.
Both of them are Peter Pans. Both of them have cases of arrested development. Both of them actually refuse to grow up. Both of them hand over responsibility, authority, blame, guilt, shame. They shift all these to the outside. They project these things. This is called alloplastic defense.
Both of them have alloplastic defenses and both of them are not very self efficacious. They are not good in securing beneficial and positive outcomes from the environment. We'll come to it a bit later.
Ironically, satisficers feel entitled to accomplishments and to beneficial outcomes that are incommensurate with their indolence, their lazy, their lazy bumps, their slackens, their absolute slackens.
And yet, having invested zero in nothing repeatedly, they still think that people owe them, that they deserve things, people, places, treatment, degrees. I mean, very much like narcissists, satisficers have this pathological entitlement. It's pathological because their sense of entitlement is not commensurate with reality. It does not reflect reality. It does not gauge reality properly. That's the only test of pathology.
And so if you work hard, if you work hard and you study for four years, you are entitled to an academic degree. But if you didn't move your bum anywhere outside the house and watch cartoons for four years, of course you are not entitled to an academic degree. But if you do think that you are entitled, something's wrong with you.
And as I said, satisficers have this sense of entitlement, exactly like narcissists, but they are not self efficacious.
Many narcissists are actually self efficacious. Many narcissists are very good, and not to mention psychopaths, are very good at manipulating their environment, grooming, love bombing, deceiving, manipulating in a way that people and circumstances cooperate, collaborate in handing to the narcissists positive outcomes, beneficial outcomes, benefits.
So narcissists, at least in the short term, because in the long term it never works, but in the short term, narcissists are optimizers. And even I would say maximizers, they are not satisficers. Satisficers are not self efficacious, end of story, under any circumstances with anyone ever.
They lack ambition. They fail in everything. They're the perennial quintessential losers, the Trump losers. They are the ones who get fired, like you are fired.
So they have incense, involuntary celibates. Peterson alludes to that in his book.
They are the defeated, broken, damaged, zero loser, carpet doormats.
Do I need to add adjectives, verbs or nouns to describe their essence? They have no essence in effect.
And they lack ambition, and they lack the will to invest. They lack the will to work hard or to work at all. They are slackers, but they disguise this.
They don't say, listen, I don't care, like the big Lebovski in the movie, wonderful movie, by the way. Absolutely wonderful movie. A perfect depiction of a satisficers slacker.
But the big Lebovski Stan, I think his name was, he was very honest about it. He said, I don't care. I don't want money. I don't want power. I don't want to be famous. I want to sit around all day and have fun and enjoy myself. I want to surf. I want, you know, I don't want all this. I have no ambition. I have zero ambition.
He was shocked when he was thrust into a situation where he actually had to accomplish things and became the focus of attention in the limelight. He was devastated. He was terrified, but he was honest.
Most satisficers are not honest, dishonest. They're very much like covert narcissists. They disguise their failure and defeat with pseudo humility, fake humility, fake modesty, false modesty. They're sanctimonious. They're self-righteous. They attain the higher moral ground. They're the ones who preach and act.
While they commit numerous felonies, offenses against morality, they are the ones who are likely to preach about morality to everyone who would listen and to many who would not listen. They are engaged most of the time in virtue signaling.
Virtue signaling. They convert their indolence, laziness. They convert this into a virtue. They're doing this because there's an ideology behind it. They develop a whole philosophy as to why they are the way they are.
And satisficers perceive social reality and also their internal psychodynamics as random, arbitrary, meaningless. They don't really believe that there are social rules and conventions and mores that people follow. They think it's a matter of convenience.
Also, they regard whatever is happening inside them, their internal processes, as they experience them. They feel that these processes are coming out of nowhere. They're not provoked or triggered by anything. It's total chaos. It's like a kaleidoscope, like a random explosion.
This satisficer is an improvised explosive device. And he just bumps from wave to wave, like a cork, from wave to wave, from place to place, from person to person, from one shallow emotion to another shallow non-emotion. There's no depth, no direction, no nothing. There's nothing.
The satisficer is an expert at nothingness, but nothingness not in the good sense. Nothingness not in the sense of subduing and controlling impulses, which are essentially selfish and falsifying reality. But nothingness in the sense that you actually take advantage of events, predicaments, circumstances, other people's distress, so satisfies this lack empathy.
And also you leverage your internal environment, but you do all this to achieve nothing. You do all this merely to subsist. It's not even to exist, it's to subsist. It's very animalistic in a way. It's cattle, cattle, like being cattle, by being, I don't know, a cow.
I've just insulted numerous cows. It's what Harvey Keckley called the rejection of life in his masterpiece, The Mask of Sanity. It's what Peterson calls anti-humanity in the 12 Rules of Life. It's simply absconding, absconding and avoiding and evading and abrogating and abdicating.
It's not a movement towards, it's a movement away. It's an extreme form of existential withdrawal. It's not even experiencing angst or anxiety, or it's just not experiencing as an art form.
And consequently, satisficers lack commitment, their commitment forms. They never commit. They never commit to a relationship. They never have a family. They never open a business. They never learn anything. They never specialize. They acquire no skills.
And when they are talented, many of them are talented, these talents go to waste. They not only lack commitment, but they lack cafes. They are unable to emotionally invest in anything or in anyone.
And the reason is that they do not experience emotions. They're emotionally numb. They're emotionally dead.
And again, there is a point of confluence between satisficers and narcissists, because both of them experience where emotions should be. Both of them experience a wasteland, an emptiness, a void.
Similar experience is often described by people suffering from borderline personality disorder. They also describe a core of emptiness.
And Kernberg, Otto Kernberg said in the 70s, that under every narcissist, you can find a borderline structure. And he was referring actually to this existential emptiness, or shall I say, non-existing existential emptiness.
It's like having a black hole at your core. It's like darkness, but not even darkness in the sinister sense, but just not light, not being, unbeing.
Germans have wonderful words for this. Read Heidegger.
And these people never plan for the future. There's no future. They live in a permanent present.
This is one of the things that worries me a lot about modern modalities, modern treatment modalities and psychotherapies, such as Gestalt, such as mindfulness. These are present-oriented psychotherapies, and nothing good can come out of this.
If you divorce your past, you can have no future. It's an absolute fact.
You cannot inhabit only the present moment and expect to develop any perception, plan, direction, or trajectory which concerns the future. You cannot absolutely ignore your past, suppress it, repress it, reframe it, and get rid of it, and expect to have a future.
We are partly as psychologists and so on, we have developed two generations at least of people who are asymmetrically invested in the present.
People without a history, people without lessons and learning, people who maximize a Carcedium mentality without even the pleasure and the joys of the Stoics or the Hedonists in ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Rome in Greece.
It's not a jubilant, joyous, vociferous, lascivious explosion of emotions and sexuality and drive and libido and life force and errors. It's not. It's languid. It's dead. It's void. It's empty. It's dark. It's cobwebbed.
This is the inner landscape of many, many members of the last two generations.
These people are satisficers. They maintain inordinately low standards and values.
And not only are these standards and values low, they're expediently reversed, compromised, or abandoned altogether depending on the circumstances, depending on the company you find yourself in, depending on your sudden urges and drives, depending on your impulses.
You flick your thumbs and you have new standards and new values.
Yesterday you believed in something. Today you believe in the opposite.
Yesterday you believed that it's wrong to cheat on your loved one. And today you think it's actually not such a big deal because you're faced with a very attractive potential sexual partner for the night.
Yesterday you thought it was wrong to steal. Today you convinced yourself that what you're doing is not really stealing.
Yesterday you said to yourself, I will never, never associate with this kind of person. And today you associate exactly with this kind of person.
Because there's some benefit. Short term benefit is offering you free drinks.
The expediency, the facile, the smoothness, the seamlessness of the transitions between values and standards is shocking. And it's indicative of an identity diffusion and identity disturbance in many members of these generations and definitely among satisficers.
An identity diffusion and disturbance is one of the diagnostic criteria of borderline personalities.
We could therefore say that big chunks of the youth of today, people born after 1995, are actually borderline. They've shown borderline features.
Satisficers are subject to magical thinking. I think therefore it is. And of course they fall prey, they're brain dead and they fall prey to all kinds of gurus, public intellectuals, coaches, mystics and yogis who convince them, you know, you can manifest what you want. Just think about it. It will happen.
The secret law of attraction, you know, I think therefore it is. Sick, counterfactual, idiotic, nonsensical pathology. It's a sickness.
In its paranoid form, it leads to conspiracy theories. In its more benign form, it leads to enormous waste of resources because rest assured all these well-meaning, of course, coaches and mystics and yogis and so on. They take your money. They take your money. They capitalize. They capitalize on your satisficing.
You don't want to work too hard. You feel entitled.
So maybe just by thinking things will happen. The universe will rearrange itself, cater to your needs.
And this leads also to magical immunity.
My actions or my inaction, my commissions or my omissions have no real life consequences for me or for others.
This is very, there's a very thin line between magical immunity and lack of empathy, this empathy, because if you believe that your actions or inaction are not going to affect you, you're not going to pay any price for doing something or not doing something, but also you believe that others will not pay any meaningful price.
Then the devil may care. You're going to do whatever you want to do. And you will not care about hurting people, including your alleged ostensible, nearest and dearest. You will not be able to develop real intimacy because real intimacy is exposure to vulnerability, its compassion. It's the wish to not hurt as a major motive.
And so magical thinking and magical immunity, they're part of a larger suite of essentially psychopathic traits because satisficers are impulsive. They see no reason to curb their impulses. They're defiant. They're reckless. They seek novelty. They seek risks. They are adrenaline junkies. They put thrill above everything else. Their existence is so flat-lined, you know, they are brain dead and heart dead. Their hearts are dead. They're so less. They're zombies.
So they need electrical jolts to come alive, like the famous frogs in biology experiments. To move their extremities, they need to be jolted, electrocuted. They need their brains fried.
Mental illness such as depression, anxiety, mood and personality disorders, they're very common among satisficers.
Strangely, slackers and satisficers are also more content than other personality types with the outcomes of the decisions they've made.
So here we see an example of resolution of cognitive dissonance, pathological resolution of cognitive dissonance, denial, reframing of reality in counterfactual ways, non-factual ways.
The satisficers' outcomes are abysmal. They are minimal. They are zero. They are nothing.
These people amount to nothing. They died nothing. They are losers. They're zeros. They're non-entities.
And yet, exactly like narcissists, they would tell you that they're happy. They've made the best possible decisions, you know. You should actually emulate and imitate them because they live happily. They are not part of the rat race. They don't conform. They're independent. They're autonomous.
You shouldn't bother them.
I want to read to you, to end this video, I want to read to you the credo, the belief, the set of beliefs and tenets and principles of the typical narcissistic satisficers.
All narcissists essentially are satisficers. Never mind how much their ambition, how high their ambition is. Never mind how much they're willing to invest and so on.
Essentially, they settle for what they can get. Somewhere in the back of their minds, narcissists realize there's something wrong with them, or maybe not wrong, but that they are exceptional. They're outliers. They're not typical. And they fully expect to pay a price for this.
So they have, they can't delay gratification. There's a famous experiment, marshmallow experiment, where children were given one marshmallow and they were told, if you wait another few minutes, you'll get a second marshmallow. If you don't touch this marshmallow, you wait a few seconds, a few minutes, you'll get another marshmallow. And you should see the kids and go online, it's on YouTube, marshmallow experiment. You should see the kids, how they argue among themselves. Usually it's a couple, how they argue among themselves, how they argue with themselves, how they reach out and gratification. The delay of gratification is the foundation of the perception of a future. If you have no hope and no future, you can't delay gratification. You just say, well, maybe it's my last chance. Maybe I will never have another. Maybe I don't have a future. Maybe there's no hope.
And so when we save money, we actually express our trust and belief, not only in the existence of a future in which we will still be alive and active, but that that future will be sufficiently benign to allow us to use our money, to put our money to good use.
Saving in economics, savings in economics are this kind of delayed gratification.
When we, as a species, we adopted agriculture, we were expressing our belief in the future. Because when you put a seed in the ground, you have to wait a few months before you get the wheat or the corn or the maize or whatever it is that comes out of the ground for you.
Maybe you're subject to the weather, to the elements, to pests. It's a supreme act of trust and belief. It's a statement to put the seed in the ground.
Agriculture has its place in our collective imagination and has its political power because it's the ultimate form of hope.
Narcissists don't have this. Psychopaths don't have this. And satisficers don't have this.
And so the narcissistic satisficer is going to say the following.
I'm a child, tyrant, emperor. I'm infantile, I'm petulant, I'm moody, I'm divine, and I'm delusional. I'm a wunderkind. I'm a boastful genius.
I want just to play, nothing else. I want to have fun. That's all I want, shared fantasy.
I renounce reality. I renounce the truth.
My game is you are my vastly inferior slaves. You are my obedient disciples, obedient and admiring.
You must accept me as I am. You're expected to fully forgive and love me unconditionally, regardless of my conduct, regardless of my misconduct. Even when I inevitably hurt you badly, time and again, you are still obligated to love me and to accept me and to pose no conditions.
I'm immutable, unchangeable, opinionated, obstinate, grandiose, labile, dysregulated and depressive.
You should not try to change me. You should abstain from fixing me.
Do not attempt to fix me. Do not attempt to bargain with me.
You're not my equals and you don't have these powers.
You can play only with me unless and until I let you play with others when you're no longer my play base, just my servants.
I'm entitled to take anything I want from you. I can do to you and to your loved ones. And I can do with you and with your loved ones. Anything I wish, anything I want to.
You have no right to protest, to decline, to resist my demands.
You are my property, my chattel, to dispose of and to do with you, as I please.
So you must obey my wishes and you must do so.
Unthinkingly, promptly, never disagree with me. And you should even please me with your agony if this is what I like, being a sadist.
You have no right to expect or to demand anything from me. If I give you anything, it's because I choose to.
I'm magnanimous, good hearted. I give only what I decide to give. And usually, only as little of my time, attention, knowledge and money as is absolutely necessary to keep you hooked, to keep you around as my playmates.
And only I decide, only I decide generally, but only I decide which game we play. And which game we play is based on how capriciously bored I am, how thrilled I am with you or with the circumstances.
At any given period, sometimes I'm bored, sometimes I'm aroused, sometimes I'm excited and this and only this determines which game we play.
And if you're not fit to play my game, I lose all interest in you instantly.
I devalue and discard you, sometimes it takes seconds.
If you refuse to play my game exactly how and precisely when I want it, or if you make any demands whatsoever, I walk, I walk away and I look for a new playmate.
So you see, it's simple really. And you know what, it works. I've had no reason to regret any of this over the decades of my life.
Compared to the overwhelming vast majority of humanity, I'm in a good place. I've spent the time allotted to me on this earth precisely as I had wanted to.
And how did I want it to? It's my way or the highway. The door is over there. Au revoir.